A handful of Republican operatives are quietly mounting a last-ditch effort to save Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from a Trump-backed primary challenge, Axios has learned.
Why is this important: The previously unreported effort shows how some Republicans are surreptitiously trying to undermine the former president’s revenge campaign, which has so far cost the political life of a significant portion of GOP critics.
- Cheney — the deputy chairman of the House Jan. 6 committee — could be the next victim. She faces tough odds in her main event fight this month against Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman.
Driving the news: Jeff Larson, president of the Republican research firm America Rising and a longtime supporter of Cheney, and Julia Griswold Dailer, a former Trump White House aide and aide to the inauguration committee, are involved in the effort.
- Their strategy is two-pronged: Persuade Democrats to cross the aisle and support the Wyoming Republican in this month’s open primary, and dent his Trump-endorsed challenger by portraying her as insufficiently loyal to the former president.
What is happening: Two seemingly unrelated political groups have recently emerged to try to fend off Hageman’s challenge.
The plot: Tex McBride, a Wyoming rancher who runs WDFD, told Axios that Larson recruited him for the role.
- “They needed someone who … has a voice in the state rather than just trying to bring in someone from the outside that no one knows or no one trusts,” McBride said in an interview.
- “My involvement is really just to connect people with each other and they’ll do their own thing and help raise funds, but that’s it,” Larson told Axios.
Federal Communications Commission Filings Griswold Dailer list as campaign manager of WDFD. His phone number is listed in the Advertising Disclosures for WDFD and CFSA Facebook Ads.
- A source involved in the campaign told Axios that Griswold Dailer is “running the show” for the umbrella effort.
- She did not respond to multiple inquiries about the campaign and her role in it.
Digital and television advertising managed by the two groups ran into the same problem: Hageman’s supposed legal work to divert Colorado River water from Wyoming.
- Cheney’s campaign ran similar ads about the allegations, which Hageman disputes.
- WDFD and CFSA also share a treasurer and use the same digital and marketing providers, according to Federal Election Commission records and a source code on their websites.
By the numbers: WDFD said it has spent $188,428 supporting Cheney since last month, making it the fourth independent spender in the Wyoming primary race — and the first to back Cheney.
- The ACSA spent an additional $47,108 attacking Hageman, according to FEC records.
- But much more was spent attacking Cheney and bolstering his rivals.
- The top group in the race, Wyoming Values, received $500,000 from Trump PAC leadership and spent more than $800,000 to oppose Cheney and support Hageman.